In one of the most bizarre games in Class 2A State Tournament history, number one seeded Hackett roared back from an early 17 point deficit to stun Buffalo Island Central 63-52 in first round action Tuesday afternoon at Melbourne.
(Town Crier photos/Trent Fletcher)
Hackett finally stopped the bleeding when Tommy Wilson knocked down a 10-foot jumper with 2:38 to go in the quarter, but BIC came right back with another run, scoring eight straight points, capped off by sophomore Kam Ashabranner's three pointer with 58 seconds left before the first break.
Hackett went to a full-court press to begin the second period and forced the Mustangs into numerous turnovers as the Hornets began to peck away at the lead. Before the quarter was complete, Hackett had forced 10 turnovers and scored 29 points while holding BIC to only three to take a 33-24 advantage into the dressing room at the half.
"The first half was really a strange half," said BIC coach Dion Hargrove. "I've never seen anything quite like it. We basically hit every shot we threw up in the first quarter and I think that shell-shocked them. We were a four seed and they were a one seed so they probably didn't give us much respect coming in. We made too many turnovers in the second period. We had six straight trips with unforced turnovers with four of them leading to baskets and we went 4:00 without scoring. You just can't do that. The momentum just changed like it can in state tournament games. Hackett made some changes defensively between quarters that gave us a lot of trouble and things just snowballed on us after that. I thought our youth and inexperience showed up in the second quarter. We called three timeouts to try to put a band-aid on it but we just couldn't get the bleeding to stop. When we were down by nine at the half we were just shell-shocked."
During Hackett's 29 point second quarter, the Hornets turned to 6'3" center Logan Emery who scored time and again from the inside. Emery, who was held scoreless in the opening period, had 13 second period points. Hackett also shot a blistering 10-13 from the foul line in the second period while the Mustangs could manage only a Wheeler lay-up and a free throw by Ben Cole.
BIC fought back in the third period, cutting the lead to four points when freshman James Tate came off the bench and connected on a three point play at the 2:34 mark. Emery answered with an offensive stick-back for the Hornets before Wheeler closed the period with a free throw, leaving the Mustangs down 43-38 heading into the final frame.
Wheeler began the fourth quarter with a three point play to trim the lead to 43-41. After a Hornet miss BIC had an opportunity to take the lead, but the Mustangs misfired and Hackett scored 13 of the game's next 17 points to grab a 58-47 advantage. The Mustangs never got closer than nine points the rest of way.
"We got within two points in the fourth quarter and had a shot at taking the lead, but missed on a three point attempt," said Hargrove. "Hackett got the rebound, made a lay-up and we fouled them and they completed a three point play to get a five point lead. After that we couldn't get a shot to go down and they stretched the lead back out and we just couldn't get back in the game. Hackett made their free throws down the stretch and put the game away."
"I was really pleased with the way we came back in the second half," continued Hargrove. "But our immaturity showed up in that second quarter. I'm looking forward to next year. We will have everyone back. I am very proud of the way the kids played this year."
BIC (26-12) was led by Wheeler's 22 point performance which included four three pointers. Ashabranner and Heath Hawkins scored nine points apiece, Hargrove netted eight, Tate tallied three while Cole pitched in one point. The Mustangs were out-rebounded 22-20 and made 12-17 foul shots. BIC hit 6-16 from beyond the three point arc but shot only 11-27 from two point range.
Emery led all scorers with 28 points, including a perfect 10-10 performance from the foul line while hitting nine of his 10 field goal attempts. Wilson finished with 13 points for the Hornets, who made 22-27 free throw attempts. Hackett hit just one of eight treys, but connected on 19 of their 34 two point attempts.